further along the column, in the advance and rear of this point of attack, but not with any serious effect. Very soon after this flank attack, a fight opened at the head of our column. The enemy had planted a battery on the right of the road, commanding the road, and had lines of infantry in advance of the battery. The First brigade, Colonel McWilliams, and the Second brigade, Colonel Wilkins, engaged the enemy and drove him out of range of the road, except his battery, which continued to play with some effect until the entire column passed. In the column on the road, one man in the Seventh Minnesota lost a leg by a solid shot, and one in the Twelfth Iowa had his head shot off. A very heavy musketry fire on both sides was kept up for half an hour or longer, but it was late, and our only object at that hour was to get forward and into a good position for the grand fight that was expected and did follow next day. Our losses were slight. I cannot state them accurately, nor name the particular regiments of the First and Second brigades that were in the fight at the head of the column. The Ninth Minnesota, of the Second brigade, I know was in. It encountered a party of about thirty rebels, who mistook our line for their own, and before they discovered their mistake were cut down to the last man by a volley from the whole line of the Ninth Minnesota. One of our batteries was for a time in position on the right of the road, and poured a deadly fire of canister into the enemy at short range. The battery lost several horses. General Smith selected a grove on the east of the cluster of houses that constituted the village of Harrisburg for our camp, which was the battle-field of the fourteenth and fifteenth. The road from Pontotoc to Tupelo runs east and west. The First division, General Mower's, was camped on the north side of the wood. The Third division, Colonel Moore's, was located on the south side of the wood. The train was parked on the road well toward the eastern limit of our camp, between the divisions and the hospital near a little stream in the woods. The negro brigade was on southeast side of camp, on the left of the Third division, covering the corral on that side. No attack was made during the night of the thirteenth. The battle opened July fourteenth. At three o'clock in the morning the troops were up and under arms until broad daylight, when they were permitted to get breakfast, but without laying aside their accoutrements. At six o'clock the enemy drove in our pickets, and our lines of battle were formed to receive him. Let me describe the ground more fully. Our army was in the centre and most elevated part of an area of partly open and partly wooded ground that the eye could take it within a radius of from one to two miles. At this distance on all sides continuous woods limited the vision. From our central position the ground descended by successive undulations or ridges in every direction. Groves of trees and underbrush were interspered with cornfields, and old fields overgrown with weeds and bramble over this area of three miles square; the Tupelo road, as stated. lying east and west directly through our camp. The ground occupied by our camp was wooded, and declined slightly toward the east, or rather it was the head of a little valley that opened toward the east, so that the interior of our lines was lower than the circular crest in which our lines of battle were formed, giving us a decided advantage. It was a magnificent position in which to receive the attack of the enemy. The superior generalship and good judgment of General Smith, in selecting this position, were fully attested by the impregnability of our lines when assaulted, and the comparatively small loss we sustained, considering the heaviness of the enemy's fire. Our lines may be described as having the shape of a horse shoe, with the top to the west on the road and open between the heels toward the east. The First division, General Mower's, constitutes the right of the line; its left, Colonel Wood's brigade; the Third, extending from the road northward, bending around to the east, facing west and northwest; the Fourth brigade Colonel Ward's, on the right of the Third, fronting north northwest, while the Second brigade, Colonel Mekin, the First brigade, Colonel McMillan, were still further to the right, fronting north and northeast. The brigades were not extended in one continuous line, but two or more lines deep. The ground was open in front of the First division line, except at the northwest angle, the centre of Colonel Wood's brigade. The Third division, Colonel Moore, was on the left, south of the Pontotoc road, forming a semicircle around south and east. Colonel Bouton's negro brigade was on the extreme left of the Third division. The First brigade, Colonel Murray, had the right of the Third division line; the Third brigade, Colonel Wolf, next; while the Second brigade, Colonel Gilbert's, was somewhat in rear near the train. The battle opened about six o'clock, in the morning — our pickets being driven in and the enemy advancing in heavy force and extended lines from the west and northwest. The Twelfth Iowa, Lieutenant-Colonel Stibbs commanding, with two companies of the Seventh Minnesota, constituting the first line of Colonel Wood's brigade, immediately on the right of Pontotoc road, received the first fire of the enemy, and for about an hour held its position, receiving and delivering as heavy a musketry fire as troops were ever under. Their ammunition being exhausted, the second line on the west front of Colonel Wood's brigade, composed of eight companies of the Seventh Minnesota, Colonel Marshall commanding, advanced and relieved the Twelfth Iowa, receiving an equally heavy, and delivering an equally effective fire with that of the Twelfth. The Seventh Minnesota had never been in a Southern battle before, (it had been engaged in
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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